McKenzie Friend NE
understanding and experience, by your side
Family courts are complex and are often filled with conflict. Legal action can also be prohibitively expensive. I have spent thirty five years helping children and parents through some of the most difficult of circumstances; as their social worker, as a manager and trainer of teams of social workers and as a Children's Guardian. Engaging me as your 'McKenzie Friend' will make my experience available to you and your children. My services are affordable and effective.
Mr Kim Simpson, Ba Hons, CQSW, PQSW, AMHP.
About & Services
I have been helping children and their families for thirty-five years as a professional social worker. A lot of my work has been in court settings and in family mediation - please see my Summary CV for the details, and the voluntary work I’ve chosen to do. It’s because of this professional expertise, my determination to help children and families in difficult situations, and my own life experience, that I am able to offer a useful service to those involved in family court proceedings. Please have a look at the Values section where I have described what guides my practise as a McKenzie Friend.
( Please note, due to my employment with South Tyneside MBC, I am unable to offer a service if your children, or either you or the other parent live in South Tyneside ).
What Mckenzie Friend NE offers - step by step
an initial conversation by phone - free
a first consultation appointment - by phone or face to face .
review and analysis of your case - family history and current situation, court orders, statements, reports, witness statements
agree together a strategy for your case
guidance for writing your court applications and statements
guidance on how to work effectively with Cafcass
training to prepare for speaking in court as a ‘litigant in person’, and for conducting cross- examination
attendance at court with you and advice during the hearings
advise re alternative options to court e.g. Mediation, direct negotiation with your ex. and his/her family
all of the above for parents, other family members, such as grandparents, and others with significant relationships with the children.
I am also able to provide independent social work assessments covering all aspects of the Welfare Checklist , when instructed by the court
- Please note I am qualified and experienced in children, families and relationships - I am not qualified as a lawyer.
My apologies that there are a lot of words in this section, but I think you’ll agree it is important to know the values of the people who you rely upon, as these underpin the approach they will take to your family situation and the advice they will give. These are my values.
Children should be given every possible help to enjoy good relationships with both of their parents, and all other family members and friends who are important to them.
Children should not be drawn in to conflicts between their parents or other adults.
Childrens’ wishes and feelings about their relationships are very important and time and care should be taken to win their trust, so these can be properly understood.
Children should not be expected to make the decisions for which adults should take responsibility.
Decisions about arrangements for children should consider both current circumstances and longer term needs. The ideal is to keep options and opportunities open for children - in practise this will involve making decisions that protect and preserve their important relationships.
You may positively dislike, or even be afraid, of the other parent. It therefore often takes quite an effort to appreciate that, though your own relationship with the other parent is over, your child’s is not.
An arrangement where children spend equal time with each of their parents - 'shared parenting' - is an ideal arrangement provided the parents are able to cooperate well.
If you are the resident parent, an important part of loving your child is to promote their relationship with the non resident parent. If you are the non resident parent, then an important part of loving your children is to support the resident parent in their role as your childrens’ main carer.
Where the family relationships have included violence and other forms of abuse between the adults, or involving the children, then arrangements must ensure that the children are safe, and the parents and other people, are safe.
Allegations and Evidence
Allegations are only allegations, unless there is evidence that support them. The level of proof in the family courts is ‘on the balance of probability’. The more serious the step to be taken, for example, significant restriction of the childrens’ contact with one of their parents, the stronger the evidence should be that justifies it.
If a professional cannot show that their opinion is based on careful, thorough and skilled analysis of evidence, then their opinion is not a professional opinion.
Reports and recommendations by Cafcass social workers should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the children, their family history, their important relationships and why these relationships are important to them.
Professionals should be skilled, objective and respectful in their approach and attitude.
Better alternatives than courts
It is much better for children if their parents, family and friends can negotiate good arrangements after separation and divorce.
Failing a negotiated family solution, Mediation via a competent family mediator is the next best alternative.
Proceedings in the family courts inevitably create more conflict in families, and are therefore a last resort. Even once in proceedings, a return to family negotiations or family mediation services is always an option, and may be helpful to achieve limited aims that contribute to a court ordered solution - for example, mediation to achieve an agreement about how to communicate.
The sooner you can get Mr Simpson involved in your case the better it will be for your children, you and your ex partner.
Even if you have gone beyond mediation Mr Simpson can help you by refocusing you and your ex partner back to what is important. Your children. He will help you remove the conflict from proceedings with sound advice based on many years of experience as a parent, a social worker and a mediator.
You will struggle to find anyone better qualified to help you through this. You will also struggle to meet anyone who more sincerely cares about wanting to help than Mr Simpson.
(full quote and name available on request)
Curriculum Vitae - Summary for Family Courts
Relevant Qualifications -
CQSW- 1988; ASW- 2001; PQSW- 2006: AMHP - 2008.
(all at Newcastle Polytechnic/Northumbria University)
Began work in Social Care 1984, Qualified in Social Work July 1988.
I have worked in every type of social work, as a practitioner, a manager, senior manager, and trainer, in statutory local authority roles. I have also worked in the private sector as managing director of an integrated health and social care company, as an independent practitioner and manager, and as a trainer and consultant. I have worked for twelve Local Authorities and three NHS Mental Health Trusts.
As a Practitioner and a Team Manager, I have specialised in local authorities Child Protection with Children and Families. Over this time I have presented or supervised the presentation of many hundreds of cases in the Family courts as either practitioner or manager. For two years I provided expert reports and guidance to the court as the childrens’ Guardian ad litem, and more recently as a Cafcass officer in the Middlesborough office.
I have also practised as an Approved Social Worker/ Approved Mental Health Professional since 2001.
In Emergency Duty Team social work I have managed four local authority teams. I have established and directed a social care company integrated with health, providing the national out of service for the CQC and for a NE local authority.
I set up a family mediation company and was director for two years
I have set up two childrens charities, and lead Sunday schools and childrens activities clubs for twenty years. I have been divorced and have remarried, and have five children, a stepson, and six grandchildren.
Terms, Fees, Accountability and Insurance
"The Family Court without a lawyer" (book) Lucy Reed www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk
"How to Represent yourself in Family Court" (book)
Children and Family Court Advisory Service
Justice website - courts, forms, court rules etc. www.justice.gov.uk
National Family Mediation www.nfm.org.uk
Resolution Family Solicitors Organisation www.resolution.org.uk
Support for Parents through separation and co parenting www.theparentconnection.org.uk
Help with couple relationships
Help with family relationships
Intelligent Divorce - fixed fee service for barristers advice on financial settlement www.intelligentdivorce.co.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau